Penguins ice ’Berg in second half
YSU pulls away in second half
after Student Princes get close
By Dan Hiner
Some of the members of the Youngstown State men’s basketball team thought their game against Division III Heidelberg was an easy win. The game turned into a challenge and it wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.
After starting 0-2, YSU finally got its first win of the season. The Penguins beat Division III Heidelberg 106-83 Monday night at the Beeghly Center in the Penguins’ home opener.
The Student Princes (0-1) were facing a more athletic team in YSU, but cut the Penguins’ lead to two points in the second half.
The Penguins (1-2) led 47-39 at halftime but Heidelberg cut the Penguins lead to 56-54 with 15:27 left in the game.
YSU put the game out of reach with an 18-2 run with 14 minutes left in the game.
“I think in these games, I think our players want to go up 20-0 in the first minute, and you can’t do that — especially with a young group,” YSU head coach Jerrod Calhoun said. “Now they’ll have a better appreciation because the same thing happened last year with Westminster.
YSU entered the game with an athletic advantage.
The Penguins were longer and faster than their Division III opponent, and it became evident in the open court.
YSU finished with 41 fast-break points and scored 58 points in the paint. The advantage helped the Penguins pull away in their second-half run.
Garrett Covington led the Penguins with 21 points and six rebounds. Olamide Pedersen and Jelani Simmons each finished with 14 points and were among six Penguins to finished in double figures.
“It was important for us to come out tonight and play our hardest,” Covington said. “We really needed this win to kind of pick up our spirits for our start.”
The Student Princes couldn’t stay out of their own way. Heidelberg committed 13 first-half fouls and had 11 turnovers.
The trend continued after halftime. The Student Princes made it a one possession but committed costly turnovers to give YSU a chance to rebuild the lead.
The YSU defense had its ups and downs.
The Penguins forced 22 turnovers and blocked five shots, but Heidelberg shot 30 of 80 (37.5 percent) from the field and 14 of 41 (34.1 percent) from beyond the 3-point arc.
Myron Prewitt led Heidelberg with 24 points and four rebounds. “I thought there were some possessions ... when they’re shooting 3s we’ve got to contest better,” Calhoun said. “That’s one of the key things for our defense or any defense. You’ve got to contest shots. You’ve got to make it a little bit harder and I thought we had our hands down.”
YSU will travel to New York for the Johnny Bach Classic, where they will play Columbia on Friday and Fordham on Saturday. The Penguins want to improve on their first win and prepare for the rest of the season.
“We had a couple bad practices a couple weeks ago,” Calhoun said. “That showed our youth and hopefully after tonight, you get a win — I thought the crowd was awesome — and hopefully [we] have a little confidence heading into this [tournament] in New York City.”